PARKERSBURG - Homecoming has officially begun with the selection of the Little Miss, Little Mister and Junior Miss Parkersburg Homecoming titles being named Friday night.
Aurora Cobb, 5, was named the 2013 Little Miss Parkersburg Homecoming; Alexander Nelson, 4, was named Little Mister Parkersburg Homecoming, and LaKyn Campbell, 8, was named Junior Miss Parkersburg Homecoming during the first pageants of the festival on Friday in the Blennerhassett Hotel's grand ballroom.
Cobb is the daughter of Lain and Nicole Sheridan of Williamstown and was up against a dozen other little girls between the ages of 4 and 6 years old for the top prize.
LaKyn Campbell, 8, of Vienna smiles proudly after being named the 2013 Junior Miss Parkersburg Homecoming during the pageant Friday evening in the ballroom of the Blennerhassett Hotel. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
Nelson, the son of Rodney and Amber Nelson of Parkersburg, gave away his personality with the standing-room-only audience by wearing his "beach hat" during the question and answer portion of the more than hour-long pageant.
Campbell of Vienna was chosen as Junior Miss against four other contestants during the 40-minute second pageant.
Both the Little Miss and Mister and Junior Miss pageants were emceed by 2007 Parkersburg Homecoming Queen Kristina Snider, who has held the position for several years.
A panel of three judges - Richard Lowe of Elizabeth, Sherry Skinner-Reynolds of Parkersburg and Gina Moore of Parkersburg - chose the winners based on interviews, personality and appearance.
During the event, the contestants let the audience and judges who they were by answering questions and performing songs and dances.
The Little Miss Photogenic is Isabelle Brown, 4, of Waverly; and Nelson was also named Little Mister Photogenic.
The runners-up for Little Mister Nelson are second runner-up Aiden Valentine, 6, of Parkersburg, and first runner-up Bransen Ayers, 5, of Parkersburg. The second runner-up for Little Miss is Jaiden Vargas, 4, of Mineral Wells, and first runner-up is Lakyn Brown, 4, of Parkersburg.
The back-up contestants for Junior Miss Parkersburg were second runner-up Ciesta Owusu, 9, of Parkersburg, and first runner-up Grace Pedersen, 9, of Parkersburg.
Charlotte Nestor, coordinator and director of the Little Miss and Mister pageant, said she was pleased with this year's contestants and their enthusiasm.
"They are all really great," she said. "We had three Little Mister contestants who are all really excited and some years we only have one, so this is nice.
"Really, they were all so excited for the pageant and I know the winners will do a great job," Nestor added.
Cobb's mother Nicole Sheridan said her daughter wanted to win so she could be part of the festival.
"I won a pageant when I was younger and know how much fun it is, so we thought with Aurora's outgoing personality that this would be a good experience for her," Sheridan said.
Amber Nelson said her son is perfect to be Little Mister Parkersburg Homecoming because every parade they see he is envious of the kids riding in convertibles.
"He wanted to win so he could ride in a car in the parade, so this made his year," she laughed. "I'm not surprised he won because he loves to talk and will talk to anyone, which is perfect."
Campbell was the 2010 Little Miss Parkersburg Homecoming and said she was excited to serve as this year's Junior Miss Parkersburg Homecoming.
"I can't wait to serve my community," she said. "I loved being Little Miss and didn't want it to end, so I'm, like, so excited right now."
Royalty from other area pageants, including the 2012 Little Miss and Mister Sternwheel, 2012 Miss Apple of Your Eye and 2012 Pure American Preliminary Queen, attended the events.
The Miss Parkersburg Homecoming and Miss Teen Parkersburg Homecoming pageants will be held today at 6 p.m. at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
The pageants are traditionally held several weeks before the festival to allow the royalty to begin fulfilling their duties.